While only about 30 percent of burials in Brookfield Township Cemetery are of cremated remains, officials expect cremation will become more popular, particularly if they set aside space specifically for cremated remains.
The key, said a representative of a company that manufactures columbariums, which are mausoleums for cremated remains, is to create a place where the living will want to go to. People like to be able to sit and reflect, be in a place of serenity, he said.
You can erect the world’s most beautiful columbarium, but no one will want to be buried there if it is off on its own, with no landscaping, sidewalks or park-like fixtures such as benches and trees, said Dave England, regional sales manager for Coldspring USA.
“It’s gotta look pretty,” he told township officials July 1.
“It needs curb appeal,” agreed cemetery consultant Jim DeChristefero of Niles, who likely would handle installation of the columbarium.
England told officials that they must factor the landscaping cost into the cost of the columbarium. If you can’t afford to make the area look pretty, don’t put up the columbarium, he said.
Cemetery Sexton Jaime Fredenburg has set aside $25,000 for a columbarium, and the trustees have about an equal amount from grant funds provided by AEP Energy and the Strimbu, O’Brien and Kirila foundations.
The trustees chose three options for a columbarium: a four-sided Romanesque monument with 124 niches, or spaces for cremated remains; an 80-niche octagon; and a 156-niche cube with a statue on top.
Coldspring submitted proposals of $35,000 to $54,000 for the options, and Fredenburg said he would look for ways to reduce the cost.
England provided photos that have been circulated locally and a couple of residents at Trustee Dan Suttles’ July 6 neighborhood meeting recommended a design that is less grand. Wade Foltz, a frequent critic of cemetery maintenance, said the Romanesque model that is the trustees’ first choice is too fancy.
“We’re all Midwest flat landers here,” added Elizabeth Boozer. “We don’t need some fancy-schmancy thing.”
Fredenburg said he expects the township will be able to install a columbarium this year and add landscaping next year.